the "respect" debate

Keane sceptical about ref talks

November 11, 2008

Roy Keane is not convinced talks between referees and club managers will solve the current differences between the two groups.

The League Managers' Association are to arrange a meeting with referees' body the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in an effort to revive the Football Association's 'Respect' campaign after a difficult few weeks.

However, Keane, who is facing an FA charge of improper conduct following comments made to match official Martin Atkinson during the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea on November 1, is unsure that is the solution.

He said: "We should be trying to respect the referees anyway, we don't need a PR stunt to try to do that. I know there was a meeting yesterday with the LMA and the managers - I declined the offer to go.

"It wasn't a great space, so I decided not to go after my disagreement with officials over the last few weeks. It is very difficult, I have to say, and the referees have got a difficult job. I have said that on more than one occasion.

"But this idea of sitting down and talking about it, I am not sure how much good it is going to do. But having said that, we have to keep trying to find a positive way of getting around it.

"Officials will always make mistakes and that has not been a problem. The problem I have had is the big mistakes always seem to go against us. Football is an emotional game, we shouldn't forget that, and we get frustrated with it.''

Keane insists he did not swear at Atkinson - the same referee criticised by Newcastle counterpart Joe Kinnear at the weekend - and maintained his calm, and was therefore surprised to be charged.

He believes he has already made his contribution to the debate.

He said: "I had that a few months ago at Manchester City's ground. [PGMOL chief] Keith Hackett was there and (Liverpool boss) Rafa Benitez and (Blackburn's) Paul Ince and (Middlesbrough manager) Gareth Southgate, and we discussed the referees.

"Do I need to sit down again and talk about referees? There comes a point where the talking has to stop.''